How to find Alitalia Flight 404 memorial

Present day.
I was going for I hike in a very good mood.
Now I’m sad.
What I’ve seen brought many memories back.


Twenty-three years ago.
I’m still in school.

46 people get up on an autumn’s morning. They have different lives, different nationalities and speak different languages. Some are men, some are women, some are rich while others are looking for a better life. Some are leaving their home, some are returning home. All different lives with only one thing in common: they’re all going to die soon, and they don’t know.

Present day.
Google maps together with Swiss love for accuracy can help a lot when you’re looking for something. Even when it is located in the middle of a forest. It’s a Swiss forest. Even trees seem to grow more neatly than in the rest of the world.

Twenty-three years ago.
It’s nighttime and it’s raining. It’s mid November.
The captain seems to be alarmed and says in Italian, with a Rome-region accent, “Hey, I’ve got seven . . .”—the radio interrupts him: “Speed is good”—“ . . . Copy that; it doesn’t make sense to me.”
First officer: “Neither to me”.

A few seconds later:
First officer: “Go around!”

Then proximity alarm goes off LOUD like hell.

The last sound recorded on the cockpit voice recorder is a chilling “whoosh” as the fuselage bends the tips of the trees.
Then the American-made aircraft, bearing the characteristic green-and-red Alitalia marks on its flanks and tail, flies into terrain.

It’s a dark November’s night when breaking news announce that one of the airlines with one of the safest records in the world has just lost a plane in Switzerland in what is at the moment an inexplicable accident. It’s November 14, 1990.

Present day.
On first day of spring in the year 2013, a sunny day, I’m hiking over a hill, in the middle of a forest.

Planes are thundering above my head. I look at them when they appear in gaps between the branches.
They’re close, but not so close. A few hundred meters I guess. By checking their heading, I figure out where they would impact against the hill if they were flying lower. Just right in front of me.

A few steps forward and I notice a narrow yet long area in the forest where trees are clearly smaller than elsewhere.
That is impact’s location. Twenty-three years later I’m in the exact spot where Alitalia flight 404, coming from Milan, Zurich-bound, was lost on a fall night, just a few miles from Zurich airport. A big stone with the victims’ names is planted on the side of the trail.

What chills me is the near hill top. A few dozen feet higher, and nobody would have never known about any incident and 46 people would be still alive. And what are a few feet, when a plane is flying 1,400 ft below its normal glide path?

Twenty-three years ago.
The airplane has broken up into several pieces. Under rain and darkness, the police are seeking for bodies with their dogs. None will be found alive.

The following inquiry will show how several factors deceived the crew and badly influenced their decisions: a faulty ILS receiver to start with, but also a lack of trust by the captain for his first officer and the reassuring messages from flight control.
Apparently, failing in informing a crew that their plane was 1,400 ft too low was not legally relevant.

Present day.
After 23 years, what’s left is a stone with names on it, and a few smaller memorials all around.
The withered flowers on them are just too sad.
Despite the sun and the uphill walk, I feel suddenly cold.

Then I look a small tree next to the stone. Long brown buds are cropping up all around on its branches.

New life will soon flourish.

It’s time to get back.

Alitalia Flight 404 memorial - Zurich, Switzerland

Alitalia Flight 404 memorial – On a wooded hill just outside Zurich, Switzerland.

Alitalia flight 404 crash and memorial site

2 Thoughts on “How to find Alitalia Flight 404 memorial

  1. Ata Yanni on February 20, 2015 at 9:06 pm said:

    Rest in peace my brother Alexander Zakka. We love you

  2. nenè rosini dionisi on September 30, 2015 at 8:45 pm said:

    the name of my husband is written in that big rock.
    the name of my love is written in my heart.

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